Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#782 in the Series) is The Beacon Street Union, The Eyes of The Beacon Street Union
Boston, over the years, has produced some top notch rock and roll bands (other than Boston) like J. Geils and Aerosmith. Boston in the late 60’s had a thriving “underground” music scene that produced East Coast progenitors of “psychedelic” sounds, like Ultimate Spinach, Orpheus and The Beacon Street Union. The Eyes of The Beacon Street Union was the bands’ first recording, released in 1968.
The group started out as college buddies “getting a band together”, playing dances at first, then getting good gigs backing up Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and opening for the Velvet Underground. The BSU played at the newly opened Boston Tea Party night club, where the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and the Who came to relax when they were passing through town. It was at this club that the BSU was introduced to record producer Wes Farrell (The Cowsills, The McCoys) who was really impressed with the band after hearing them play. He convinced the young guys of BSU to sign on with him, and he got them a recording contract with MGM, which released their initial recording. Farrell was a successful producer of Pop music, but he had little experience with recording a rock band like BSU. He found it hard to capture the vibrant edginess of their live performance in the studio; so he compensated by using stereo panning, phasing, flanging and other “innovative” (for 1967) studio effects. BSU was not impressed; they thought the effects were “cheesy”, and hate them to this day. The band was in for more surprises when they heard what the end result of what Farrell had created. “The panning and other gimmicks were just Wes Farrell trying to make himself sound hip” said BSU member Wayne Ulaky.
Despite the BSU’s displeasure with the outcome of their recording efforts, The Eyes of The Beacon Street Union holds up very well after 40+ years. After the opening monologue “Recitation” (which the band had no idea was going to be included!), “My Love Is” kicks off with driving drums and acid guitar; this was the first single off the album. The band covers Chuck Berry’s “Beautiful Delilah” (sounds a little dated), and there’s a pretty good cover of an old jug band tune “Sportin’ Life”.There are several spacey psychedelic tunes on “Eyes…” that really soar; “Mystic Morning” and “The Prophet.” “Green Destroys The Gold” is a psychedelic beauty, with lyrics that sound like a stream of consciousness chant. I think the highlight of the album is “Blue Avenue”; choppy guitar, pulsating keyboards, driving beat. Still sounds great in the 21st century! (And through headphones!)
I had the good fortune to see these guys live back then, and it was a great show (what I can remember of it). Listening to this album is a way cool trip in The Wayback Machine!
- Recitation/My Love Is (Pomerene / Ulaky) 4:11
- Beautiful Delilah (Chuck Berry) 2:12
- Sportin’ Life (Traditional) 3:12
- Four Hundred And Five (Weisberg) 2:11
- Mystic Mourning (Weisberg) 5:58
- Sadie Said No (Ulaky / Wright) 2:54
- Speed Kills (Ulaky / Wright) 1:59
- Blue Avenue (Ulaky) 2:52
- South End Incident (I’m Afraid) (Ulaky) 3:57
- Green Destroys Gold (Ulaky) 3:03
- The Prophet (Ulaky / Wright) 4:34
- Paul Tartachny – guitar, vocals
- Wayne Ulaky – bass, vocals
- Robert Rhodes – keyboards, bass
- Richard Weisberg – drums